Well, there weren't too many fellow bloggers in attendance. In fact, I think it was pretty much Kimberly of Catholic Family Vignettes and myself. Fr. Zuhlsdorf and his host, Fr. Ireland, arrived with a few others from Fr. Ireland's parish. A few were unfamiliar with Fr. Z's blog, which was surprising to me. I suppose I live in a rather insulated world, assuming every Catholic has heard of Fr. Z!
Still, it was a very enjoyable event. Fr. Z shared a few amusing stories about his first experiment with podcasting and what he'd like to do with wacky parishes. (Destroy and pour salt on the ground so nothing every grows there again...) I got my answer to why special vestments are important. (Because it visually reminds us of the separation between the sacred and the profane.)
Fr. Z is a highly personable priest, which some may have gleaned already from listening to his podcasts. But what his podcasts don't reveal is his extreme politeness, sensitivity, and receptivity to strangers. From my many years of contact with "famous" Christians, I can vouch for a certain weariness they carry by the high expectations often forced upon them. When strangers meet a writer, for instance, there is a presumed intimacy they believe exists. It is a delicate exercise to exude both warmth and appreciation for those who are "fans" while still maintaining boundaries. Fr. Z. does this so well that you'd almost think he was your long-lost cousin! For all his profound insights and knowledge, he is extremely approachable. Yes, color me impressed!
Below are some photos from the event. We hope to eventually get Fr. Z to visit our hometown someday. Hilaire, a gracious gentleman who drove for almost 3 hours to get us to Cleveland, especially made Fr. Z smile when he showed him a photo of him and his "Uncle Joe", who was none other than Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now our beloved Papa! Hilaire is a funny guy!
Fr. Z confirming that Italian espresso is hands down, the best espresso on the planet.
Fr. Z and Fr. Ireland with a parishioner. Fr. Z must still be thinking about that wacky parish...
Fr. Z and Fr. Ireland
Fr. Z and my friend, Kimberly
Fr. Z with the very funny "Hilaire" (Who will most likely now introduce this photo with the question, "Hey, wanna see a photo of my Uncle John?")
Yours truly with Fr. Z